top of page

CPTTP: Five Uncomfortable Truths that UK Businesses Should Know

While the UK government touts the benefits of CPTPP, it's important to acknowledge the potential downsides as well.

FACT 1: This FTA is at least as complex as any other, if not more complex

Free trade agreements bring advantages, but usually not complete freedom from customs duties, despite being called "Free". Certain groups of goods (e.g. agricultural products) are excluded from free trade, and the tariffs only decrease gradually over several years. This is also the case for the CPTTP. Also, please note that each FTA, signed between two or more nations, can provide for different rules of origin. Processes and procedures differ, too, and UK businesses must comply with these, too.

To give you the scale of such an undertaking, there are currently around 270 regional trade agreements in force that allow for free(er) trade between two or more countries. So it is fair to say that this FTA is at least as complex as the EU-UK TCA, if not more complex, due to the many countries taking part and all having exceptions, special provisions and unique tariff reduction schedules. Here, more than ever, the devil will be in the detail.

FACT 2: What CPTTP stands for, who is in it and how relevant it is

CPTTP stands for Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP). It is a multinational trade agreement between

  • Australia,

  • Brunei,

  • Canada,

  • Chile,

  • Japan,

  • Malaysia,

  • Mexico,

  • New Zealand,

  • Peru,

  • Singapore, and

  • Vietnam.

It evolved from the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), which never entered into force due to the withdrawal of the United States. The new Biden administration has indicated that it may rejoin the trade agreement in the future.

At the time of its signing, the CPTPP was the third-largest free-trade area in the world by GDP after the United States–Mexico–Canada Agreement and the European Single Market and possibly after 2020 signed Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership.

FACT 3: The UK will be the second-largest participant in the CPTTP, exporting at least 1 Billion GBP to CPTPP member states.

The UK is the first non-founding country to apply to join the CPTPP. In 2024, the UK will become the second-largest CPTPP economy after Japan.

The UK exported at least £1 billion ($1.25 billion) worth of goods to CPTPP member countries. The UK government also highlighted that UK companies held close to £98 billion worth of investments in CPTPP countries in 2018[75] and that in 2019, the UK did more than £110 billion ($137 billion) worth of trade with countries in the CPTPP free trade area.

FACT 4: The UK has already signed FTAs with most CPTTP countries. UK businesses can choose which one to use

Once a member, there may be circumstances where your good has better tariff treatment under another FTA which the UK has with a CPTPP Party. For example, the UK has the following existing preferential trade agreements with Japan, Chile, Singapore, Vietnam and New Zealand (all CPTPP Parties), amongst others.

UK Businesses can then assess whether it is more advantageous to trade under the preferential CPTPP tariff rate, under the current MFN applied tariff or through a separate FTA that the UK has with the Party. Where the UK and a CPTPP Party are members of another FTA, unless the other FTA or the CPTPP say otherwise, it is a commercial decision for businesses to decide which agreement they will use. Importers and exporters have the option of selecting which agreement is best suited to them. To be eligible for tariff-free trade under the UK Free Trade Agreements (FTAs), it is imperative that businesses thoroughly review and understand the specific Rules of Origin for each FTA.

Top Tip: Compare the Rules of Origin of all UK FTAs with the Rules of Origin of CPTPP. UK: Access the Rules of Origin of all UK Free Trade Agreements:

FACT 5: Preferential trade is possible only if a UK business meets the provisions of the agreement, including rules of origin

UK exporters and importers wishing to use a future CPTTP need an understanding of the process for determining whether a good meets the CPTPP Rules of Origin and is eligible for preferential treatment under the CPTPP, along with all the other provisions of the agreement.

This means concretely that when trading under the CPTPP, it is up to the importing customs authority to assess whether the rules of origin, as evidenced by certification documentation held by the importer or the exporter, have been met. The CPTPP will have a system of advanced ruling to provide certainty on whether a good is eligible for preferential treatment under the TPP.

Top Tip

More Information and Links

Unlocking the Benefits: CPTPP - Rules of Origin

In our new series covering the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for the Trans-Pacific Partnership, CPTPP, we will break down all the relevant provisions of the Free Trade Agreement. Today, we will focus on Rules of Origin.

The Ultimate Guide to how to meet the Rules of Origin

Find out the rules to establish the country of origin of imported and exported goods and to help identify goods that qualify for lower or no customs duty.


The UK concluded negotiations to join the CPTPP on 31 March 2023 and signed the Protocol of Accession on 16 July 2023. The agreement will enter into force once the UK and CPTPP Parties have finished their legislative processes. We expect this to happen in the second half of 2024.

Businesses interested in trading with these countries may wish to familiarize them with the CPTTP text, processes and procedures. Contact Customs Manager Ltd. for more information and an informal chat about the opportunities.

More information & links

CPTPP: Membership perks for British Exporters !?!

Will the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP) truly benefit British exporters? What are the UK CPTPP membership perks? We explore.

The Ultimate Guide on how to meet the Rules of Origin

Find out the rules to establish the country of origin of imported and exported goods and to help identify goods that qualify for lower or no customs duty

About Customs Manager’s Customs & Global Trade Intelligence Services

The Premium Professional Legislative Monitoring Service (PLM) is a research and curation service which checks for legislative updates from official government websites based on the selected jurisdictions and topics. Paid Plan subscribers can access regular law change notifications to ensure they never miss a significant legal change on – a website dedicated to customs & trade intelligence. At the same time, they save valuable time by engaging our dedicated trade specialists to carry the monitoring out for them. Premium subscribers also unlock all content on the Customs Manager’s Ltd. website, including our Customs & Trade Blog on , providing vital thought leadership development services to empower them to trade effectively, efficiently and, of course, compliantly, across borders. Premium Subscribers can add jurisdictions and topics for an additional charge.

About Customs Manager Ltd.

We aim to empower people with import, export and transport responsibilities with helpful advice, insightful training and relevant trade intelligence services. We devote all our passion and energy to helping businesses grow faster cross-border. Working with us means having your own multilingual Customs Manager on standby to help you trade effectively, efficiently and, of course, compliantly wherever you want to go. Includes Brexit support and the ability to lodge customs declarations + Rules of Origin

Stay in Touch

· Twitter: @customsmanager

Important Notice

Customs Manager Ltd. owns the copyright in this document, except for external documents and links we refer to or make available.

You are not allowed to use this information in any way that infringes its intellectual property rights. You may have to hold a valid licence to use this information. A licence can be obtained by becoming a Paid Plan subscriber to the Customs Managers’ Customs & Trade Intelligence service, also known as Professional Legislative Monitoring (PLM). As a Paid Plan subscriber, you may download and print this information which you may then use, copy or reproduce for your internal non-profit-making purposes.

However, you are not permitted to use, copy or reproduce this information to profit or gain.

In addition, you must not sell or distribute this information to third parties, not members of your organisation, whether for monetary payment or otherwise.

This information is intended to serve as general guidance and not constitute legal advice. The application and impact of laws can vary widely based on the specific facts involved. This information should not be used as a substitute for consultation with professional legal or other competent advisers. Before making any decision or taking action, consult a Customs Manager Ltd. professional.

In no circumstances will Customs Manager Ltd be liable for any decision made or action taken in reliance on the information contained within this document or for any consequential, special or similar damages, even if advised of the possibility of such damages.

118 views0 comments


bottom of page